Linguistic Confusion

QuestionsI was deep in thought as I Janathoned today. I was pondering the joys of leading worship with a temporary organist with a finely honed sense of humour, who also happens to be my former training incumbent (ie the vicar who oversaw my practical training), and who knows what I’m like, and when I’m likely to do something unlikely. And so I chuckled at the memory of the verger and I processing out of church this morning to the triumphant strains of the Bridal March, which given the Bible reading was the Wedding at Cana, makes more sense than you might suppose.

Anyway, it mean that when a fellow walker greeted me with “afternoon”, I absentmindedly responded with “orroight”. For those of you not from the South Midlands, orroight (a dialect form of ‘all right’) is a perfectly normal greeting to a stranger when you meet on a walk. The accepted response to “orroight” is “orroight”. Such an exchange may be translated as

“Good afternoon, stranger. I note your presence, and the fact that up you appear to be enjoying your walk. I am too. Have a lovely day”

“Why thank you. It is a perfect afternoon for a walk isn’t it? Hope you enjoy the rest of your perambulations.”

From this, you may correctly conclude that the translation of “orroight” is highly context specific.

I was somewhat surprised when my mild “orroight” got back “yes, I’m very well thank you, are you?”. Because of course, someone from the South will hear “orroight”, translate “All right?” and answer the question they perceive they have ben asked. Which they haven’t. On the plus side, it can start conversations, but on the negative side, it doesn’t half shock this Midlander when she gets into exchanges like the one from this afternoon….when “orroight” got back a “very well thank you and how are you?”

It’s lovely, but it did make me jump. I had to leap back to being sociable – perhaps no bad thing! Of course, were I to find someone huddled in a ditch with a leg at a weird angle*, I might still greet them with “oright”, but as noted, the translation is highly context specific, so there what I am saying is “good grief, you poor soul, has anyone gone for help, and is there anything useful I can do other than apply standard First Aid?” The good thing abut “orroight” is its flexibility!

*You don’t want me to be the one who finds you if you are badly injured. I am really very squeamish indeed.


5 responses to “Linguistic Confusion

  1. Pingback: #Janathon Day 24 – A decent walk with confusion | Rev'd Claire·

  2. Despite being Welsh I was brought up in Brum so am familiar with most of the (mainly Black Country inspired) dialect of that area.
    As you so rightly say, Orright or Oroit or variations of that word are very much a question of context.
    An answer such as you received, would be met by “well I;ll goo to the foot of our stairs”. Which is an expression of surprise.
    Ain’t dialect a wonderful thing? Unless of course you happen to be a foreigner trying to learn English. 🙂

  3. I would argue that your claim of Orright for the midlands is one that forgets that us cocknee’s ave bin sayin for donkeys arite for eggxacly the same porpoise.

    It duz ov cse elicit sum ov the same from posh gits (or Gittesses) u arnt uzed 2 takin to us geezers.

    Brawd acents arnt just found in brum u no?

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